It’Sa Too Bada, Guru

Among the numerous gurim (gurus?) who have left the Indian subcontinent to find fame and fortune in North America, the best known is Maharaj Ji (Hon. Great Dominion). A close reading of his official biography, Who Is Guru Majaraj Ji? (Bantam, 1973), could make one think that the guru, born in 1957, has managed to prolong the sixteenth year of his life beyond the usual 365 days (he is constantly cited as a [the?] fifteen-year-old perfect spiritual master).

Lest the reader think it a bit ostentatious of a fifteen-year-old to call himself Hon. Great Dominion, his mother, who presumably had a say in the matter, is known to his followers simply as Mata Ji (Hon. Mother). And the guru is hardly stingy with titles. When under the British Raj (Dominion), India reserved the title Mahatma (Great Soul) for the preeminent Indian leader of our century, Gandhi. But among the adherents of Maharaj, the title of Mahatma has been so widely awarded that it now appears to represent a kind of rank, such as cardinal or canon.

Maharaj Ji promises his followers quite a few desirable things, including Knowledge and Peace (slogan: A Millennium of Peace for People Who Want Peace). Not all gurim, however, are so mild. One who apparently won’t make it to the West is Punjabi Baba Baghel Singh, called by his followers “Mastnaian da sab too bada guru” (the greatest guru of the happy-go-lucky). According to the Bombay Current, Baba Baghel Singh and his deputy, Kudlip Singh, were reputedly killed in a run-in with Punjabi State Police. While Maharaj Ji as a matter of record has founded a magazine, a travel service, and a television company in America, stay-at-home Baba Baghel would appear, according to Current, to have taken things a bit ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.